Friday, November 10, 2006

Osage oranges or hedge apples

"What ARE those green things? Monkey brains?" asked over my shoulder as I published the post below.
In case you've never seen them, those strangely textured balls are Osage oranges, the fruit of the Osage (or Bow-wood) tree. You may have also heard them called Hedge Apples, for pioneers often planted starts of them for living fences. I always gather a bag or two when I see them by the roadside. I love their acid green color and sweet scent. A big bowlfull makes a free seasonal centerpiece!
A great book with a chapter about the Osage tree is Susan Munger's Common To This Country: Botanical Discoveries of Lewis and Clark. Its fantastic illustrations really enriched my understanding of their journey.


Laura Talbert said...

We have some near our house. We call them hedge balls. Local lore has it that they are good for keeping away spiders so people put them in corners and closets. Dunno if it works.

Luke and Valerie said...

When we lived in VA, we attended a cheese and wine festival in Amherst one fall, and a little boy was running up and down the dirt lanes trying to sell those for $2. We had to laugh because the balls were all over the fields and it was obvious that he had just picked some up.
I LOVE that smell, takes me back to those good times in VA.

Amy Witt said...

Interesting. In Texas we call them Horse Apples or Bois D'Arc apples but they are the same things. We use to throw them at each other when we visited my grandmother as a child.